This trial compared the cost of an integrated home-based care model with traditional inpatient care for acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 25 patients with acute COPD were randomised to either home or hospital management following request for hospital admission. The acute care at home group costs per separation ($745, CI95% $595-$895, n = 13) were significantly lower (p < 0.01) than the hospital group ($2543, CI95% $1766-$3321, n = 12). There was an improvement in lung function in the hospital-managed group at the Outpatient Department review, decreased anxiety in the Emergency Department in the home-managed group and equal patient satisfaction with care delivery. Acute care at home schemes can substitute for usual hospital care for some patients without adverse effects, and potentially release resources. A funding model that allows adequate resource delivery to the community will be needed if there is a move to devolve acute care to community providers.